Obama's hunt for a bipartisan fig leaf on health care
Over the course of 2009 conservatives and Republicans have done a far better job than anyone would have thought possible when it came to blocking ObamaCare from becoming law. Everyone thought it was a fait accompli, but it ran into the brick wall of public opinion.
In light of the recent elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, as well as his own falling poll numbers, Obama wants Republicans to come together with Democrats for a grand health care “summit” to search for a bipartisan compromise. In other words, he wants some cover.
But even as Obama and Democrat leaders have publicly pressured Republicans about attending their summit, they’ve spent hours in private backrooms planning to get around a Republican filibuster and pass their bill by resorting to the legislative trick of the budget reconciliation process.
So much for bipartisanship.
The fact is that liberals are desperate. They’ve seen the polls and they know that it’s time for them to grow as much government as they can before voters have a chance to head to the polls and turn Washington on its ear this November.
They understand that the current versions of the bill may not be their idea of liberal perfection, but it surely represents one of the best opportunities they’ve ever had to lock in the biggest expansion of government in living memory. It means more bureaucrats, more government jobs, more regulations and more control over how people can live their lives. In short, it means power.
Liberal Democrats in politically “safe” districts and states are fixated on pressing ahead, pushed ever forward by their radical base. But, as Massachusetts Democrats recently found out, the notion of “safe” districts or states doesn’t mean what it used to. A thought not lost on more moderate Democrats in more marginal seats.
Each day seems to bring another retirement announcement by another Democrat, another poll showing Republicans with big leads over incumbent Democrats, and the American people growing increasingly opposed to Obama’s programs. All of which makes it harder for Obama to convince enough Democrats to go along with his agenda, as they are all too aware that his name isn’t on any ballots this fall.
When incumbent Democrats like Senator Evan Bayh (with over thirteen million dollars in the bank) decide that it’s too risky to run for re-election, the writing is on the wall.
But for liberal Democrats, the goal is so tantalizingly close. Just think of it – regulatory control over another 1/6th of the US economy in an area that they can extrapolate out to virtually every aspect of American life. (Put that soft drink down! No more McDonalds for you!) They’ve come too far to turn back now.
As for Obama, he knows the Democrats are in for a beating at the polls this November, and he’s already thinking about his own re-election. He will use health care “summit” and its aftermath as an opportunity to disingenuously portray Republicans as being against any reform and on the side of groups Americans dislike, (like insurance and pharmaceutical companies).
For Republicans, this is no time for bi-partisanship. Especially given that bi-partisanship usually means that Republicans go along with how liberal Democrats want to do things. They need to resist the urge to do anything other than demand that Obama, Pelosi and Reid go back to square one with health care. Current versions of the legislation should be absolutely off the table. Further, any more “comprehensive” bills should be declared off-limits. “Comprehensive” is a Washington, DC euphemism for legislation that’s easier to fill with things that the public would never approve of.
Instead, the GOP should demand a series of stand alone bills that promote issues such as medical malpractice reform, allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines, and allowing small businesses to band together to buy insurance. Each of these are issues that are commonly understood to have a tremendous impact on the cost of health care in America. And they’re all supported by large majorities of the American public. Unlike ObamaCare.
Short of that, congressional Republicans shouldn’t fear being labeled as the “party of no”. There are worse things that they could be in the coming election.
Just ask the Democrats.
Cross-posted at DrewMcKissick.com